By Sophie Jeong, Zamira Rahim, Aditi Sangal and Nicholas Pearce, CNN
Updated 0714 GMT (1514 HKT) April 20, 2021
1:22 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021
Global Covid-19 cases increase for eighth week in a row, WHO chief says
From CNN's Naomi Thomas
Global Covid-19 cases have increased for the eighth week in a row, World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a news briefing in Geneva on Monday.
“Last week new cases of Covid-19 increased for the eighth week in a row with more than 5.2 million cases reported — the most in a single week so far,” said Tedros.
Deaths also increased for the fifth straight week, he said, with more than 3 million deaths now having been reported to the organization.
“It took nine months to reach 1 million deaths, four months to reach 2 million and three months to reach 3 million deaths,” said Tedros. “Big numbers can make us numb, but each one of these deaths is a tragedy for families, communities and nations.”
Tedros added that infections and hospitalizations among people age 25 to 59 are “increasing at an alarming rate,” possibly due to highly transmissible variants and increased social mixing among younger adults.
11:58 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
CDC working through a "handful" of reports of adverse events after J&J vaccine, agency director says
From CNN's Virginia Langmaid
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking at a "handful" of reported adverse events after use of Johnson & Johnson’s Covid-19 vaccine, CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.
“There’s been a handful of cases, not an overwhelming number of cases. We are working through and adjudicating them and verifying whether they do in fact reflect a true case,” Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing.
Walenksy said that it will be the work of the CDC and US Food and Drug Administration this week, in order to present findings at the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices on Friday.
“We’re doing that work right now and we are encouraged that it hasn’t been an overwhelming number of cases, but we’re looking and seeing what’s come in,” she said.
The CDC and FDA recommended pausing the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine last week after six cases of rare blood clots among women who received the vaccine.
Another case, in a 25-year-old man, was reported during the clinical trial of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine.
11:54 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
Low number of breakthrough Covid-19 cases in US shows "these vaccines are working," CDC director says
From CNN’s Virginia Langmaid
The fact that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has received less than 6,000 reports of breakthrough Covid-19 cases among more than 84 million people fully vaccinated shows “these vaccines are working,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said Monday.
“Last week, we released data on the number of so-called breakthrough infections of people who, despite being vaccinated, still tested positive for Covid-19 more than 14 days after they’re getting their second vaccine dose,” Walensky said during a White House Covid-19 briefing on Monday. “So far out of more than 84 million people who are fully vaccinated, we have only received reports of less than 6,000 breakthrough cases.”
The CDC’s website, which was updated last week, specifies there are at least 5,814 reports of breakthrough infections so far out of 75 million people fully vaccinated in the United States at the time.
With any vaccine, breakthrough cases are expected. The number of cases so far comes from just 43 states and is likely an underestimate, but “it still makes a really important point, these vaccines are working,” Walensky said.
Among those nearly 6,000 cases, “approximately 30% had no symptoms at all. This is really encouraging news,” she said.
“Here's the bottom line, getting a vaccine will help protect you. It will help protect others and it will help us end this pandemic. The more people get vaccinated, the fewer infections there will be, which means fewer variants will emerge, and fewer breakthrough infections will occur and the quicker we can get back to doing the things we love," the CDC director continued.
12:15 p.m. ET, April 19, 2021
All Indians 18 years and older will be eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting May 1
"In a meeting chaired by [Prime Minister] Narendra Modi, an important decision of allowing vaccination to everyone above the age of 18 from 1st May has been taken," the statement noted. "He added that India is vaccinating people at world record pace& we will continue this with even greater momentum."
This comes as a second wave of the coronavirus pandemic has swept the country. India has recorded a total of 15,061,919 Covid-19 cases and 178,769 deaths, according to the health ministry.
India added a million new cases in less than a week, surpassing 14 million total cases on Thursday.
Currently, only people who are health care workers, front line workers or 45 years and older are eligible to get vaccinated and already, vaccine supplies have dried up on the ground, with at least five states reporting severe shortages and urging the federal government to act.
With this latest announcement, India's vaccination campaign will be split into two strands. Government centers will continue to give free vaccines only to health care workers and frontline workers and those who are 45 or older. Private vaccination providers will be able to charge and provide vaccines to everyone aged 18 or older.
India will allow foreign-manufactured vaccines to be entirely utilized by the "open market" or private vaccination providers.
Under the "Liberalised and Accelerated Phase 3 Strategy of the National Covid-19 Vaccination program," vaccine manufacturers would supply 50% of their monthly doses to the central government and would be free to supply the remaining 50% doses to state governments and in the open market.
India produces more than 60% of all vaccines sold globally, and is home to the Serum Institute of India (SII,) the world's largest vaccine maker. The country has been working with COVAX, a global vaccine-sharing initiative that provides discounted or free doses for lower-income countries.
However, in the face of this crisis, the government and SII have shifted focus to prioritizing their own citizens at home.
9:15 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
All Americans 16 years and older are eligible for Covid-19 vaccines starting today
From CNN's Arlette Saenz and Christina Maxouris
As all Americans 16 years and older become eligible for the vaccine today, the White House is launching a media blitz to raise awareness about Americans' vaccine eligibility, an administration official said.
Earlier this month, President Biden moved up the deadline for states to make all American adults eligible for the vaccine to April 19, after an original deadline of May 1. All 50 US states committed to Biden's expedited deadline earlier this month, with Hawaii becoming the last state to do so on April 7.
The White House blitz, outlined by the administration official, will include more than 30 local media interviews across the country. Part of their outreach will target specific constituencies, including Black, Latino and rural communities, through interviews with outlets such as the Rickey Smiley Morning Show, Telemundo and All Ag News. There will also be a series of national media hits featuring doctors.
White House Senior Adviser for Covid Response Andy Slavitt told CNN's Pamela Brown Sunday that 90% of Americans will be within 5 miles of a vaccine distribution site.
He added there are plenty of vaccine appointments available across the country, and while people might not be able to get an appointment Monday, it's getting substantially easier for people to get appointments, noting that there are more than 50 million doses out there waiting for people.
"I worry that we're starting to get to that point — which we always knew existed somewhere in the horizon — where the level of supply would outstrip the demand," epidemiologist Dr. Abdul El-Sayed told CNN on Sunday.
Read more about where things stand in US vaccinations here.
8:31 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
Guidance on Johnson & Johnson vaccine could come in days with some restrictions, US surgeon general says
From CNN's Aditi Sangal
US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy told CNN he anticipates that updated guidance on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine could come in "days" and it may involve “restrictions around age or gender” depending on what the data shows.
It will require the US Food and Drug Administration and Center for Disease Control and Prevention to "come together and make that decision," he added.
"If we think about the AstraZeneca experience in Europe, they ended up placing such restrictions as well," Murthy explained, adding that it "narrowed the group of people, who were not only eligible for the vaccine, but more specifically needed to take some additional precautions in mind before they took the vaccine just so they understood the full risks."
He emphasized that the pause will not impact the vast majority of the people who have received the J&J vaccine.
"The more than 7 million people, who have gotten the vaccine, will be fine," he said Monday. "It's also important to note that this is the safety system working. A signal was seen, it's being investigated. That's what you want — to know your vaccines are both safe and effective."
Watch his comments here:
8:11 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
India's capital Delhi announces lockdown as Covid-19 cases continue to rise
From CNN's Esha Mitra
Delhi, India's capital, will be under lockdown for one week until next Monday, April 26, the chief minister announced on Monday.
“If we don’t put a lockdown now we may end up in a tragedy,” Arvind Kejriwal, the chief minister of Delhi said.
As part of the lockdown, there will be a curfew on movement, starting 10 p.m. local time this Monday until 5 a.m. on April 26. However, essential products and service providers will be exempt from this rule.
All private offices and establishments, such as shops, malls, gyms, cinema halls and swimming pools, will remain closed, Delhi’s Disaster Management Authority said on Monday.
Delhi faces shortage of medical resources: Kejriwal said the city was facing a significant shortage in beds, oxygen supply and remdesivir injections.
He acknowledged that the situation was grim, adding that one hospital “somehow arranged for oxygen in time” when it nearly ran out at 3 a.m. local time on Sunday morning.
The city administration has been taking a number of steps to ramp up health care infrastructure, including converting sports complexes, hotels and schools into Covid-19 care centers.
On Sunday, Kejriwal said up to 2,000 oxygen beds would be added over the next two days at Yamuna sports complex in Delhi.
Delhi reported 25,462 new cases of Covid-19 on Sunday, bringing the total cases in the city to 853,460. At least 12,121 people have also died from the virus, according to the Delhi health department.
7:55 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
Iran reports more than 24,000 Covid-19 cases
From CNN’s Ramin Mostaghim in Tehran
Iran reported 24,346 new daily coronavirus cases on Monday, bringing the country's total tally to 2,261,435.
The country also reported 398 new Covid-19 related deaths, raising its death toll to 67,130.
At least 4,843 patients remain hospitalized in ICUs, a spokeswoman for the ministry of health, Sima Sadaat Lari, said on the state television.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said last Thursday that the country is suffering its 4th wave of coronavirus.
257 cities and towns in Iran with high case tallies have been categorized as "red zones."
These zones are in semi-lockdown and non-essential businesses are closed.
8:04 a.m. ET, April 19, 2021
UK human challenge trial launches to study Covid-19 reinfection
From CNN Health’s Maggie Fox and Chloé Adams in Glasgow
A year-long trial launched Monday to study how the immune system reacts in people contracting coronavirus for the second time.
Volunteers in the UK who've previously had Covid-19 will be deliberately infected with the virus to discover what it may mean for developing immunity.
The so-called "challenge trial" will happen under carefully controlled conditions, with treatments on hand in case volunteers becomes ill, the team at the University of Oxford said.
“Challenge studies tell us things that other studies cannot because, unlike natural infection, they are tightly controlled. When we re-infect these participants, we will know exactly how their immune system has reacted to the first Covid infection, exactly when the second infection occurs, and exactly how much virus they got,” Dr. Helen McShane, a vaccine specialist at the University of Oxford, said in a statement.
The first phase of the study, starting this month, will find the lowest dose of virus that can infect half of coronavirus survivors without causing symptoms.
Then all 64 volunteers will be infected with that dose. Their immune responses will be studied.
Participants will initially be monitored 24/7 for two weeks while they quarantine in a specially designed hospital suite where they will undergo medical tests, including CT scans of the lungs and MRI scans of the heart.
Any volunteers who develop symptoms will be treated with Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment and discharged from quarantine only when they are at no risk of infecting others.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today program on Monday, McShane said: “One of the things we can determine with this study is how long that protection lasts. Once we understand exactly the immune response that protects against second infection, we can then use that information to develop vaccines more quickly, test vaccines more quickly, and understand who is protected and who isn't from this virus.”
McShane said they’ll be recruiting people who are young and healthy – ages 18 to 30 -- with the “lowest possible risk of serious consequences from this infection.”